Sunday 28 May 2023

Tacking practice..

Seize the moment...  and bloody pleased I did...

Glorious weekend in the UK with plenty of breeze (forecast was 3 gusting 4) which is Sparrow's sweet spot, the only downside was an 18:30 neap'ish HT, but needs must, and even a few hours on the water was better than none at all, and besides, after that all too short shakedown the other night I was keen to get out for a slightly longer trip..

Down the club by 2'ish then and after a chat with fellow club member Julian, I found some bits to do while I waited for a little more water to arrive...

Main order of duty was to find some buffering/fendering materials for the new tender as she currently has none. 

Round the back of one of the containers at the end of the yard though, I found a couple of old small fenders, still inflated though a little soft. Clearly surplus to anyone's requirements, so with the addition of some line I found in the boot of the car I added these to one side of the tender - I'll make a more permanent fixing this week, but lashed long'wise, end to end, they were perfect...

The tender is beginning to come together - some O rings on the bung fixed the dripping issue I had the first time, and to all intents she is almost dry now...  one of the other issues though was the hawser/towing line which was too short to allow me to tie her off to Sparrow at my usual attachment points but still have her broadside to the cockpit to make getting in and out easier and safer..  I have some 12mm mylar rope in the garage which was a gift from the brother in law and removed from one of the Clipper Round the World yacht race boats a few years back, so a length of that whipped at each end was pressed to service..  it's probably too thick but it tickles me that a rope that probably saw the worst of the Southern Ocean is now a towing line for my little tender.. πŸ˜€

With just over 3.5 hours to HT I launched the tender and made my way to Sparrow to get her ready to go..  depth showed me half a meter under the keel, so having taken covers off, started donk, tied off tender, and dropped the mooring chain we were off..  not bad on a 3.4 mtr tide.

Also not surprisingly though, that early in the tide it was flowing fairly strong against me (and the rest of the afternoon to be honest) so with the wind direction being mostly southerly with just a little east in it, I motored to Beacon where I put the main up for the first time this year, slackened the topping lift, rolled out the genoa, and then went tacking for the afternoon..  πŸ˜ƒ

Pictures of Sparrow courtesy of Julian's missus as they were out on their boat.. 

Lovely afternoon with just enough breeze to keep Sparrow on her toes...  she was pointing well despite the full genoa, and she was also moving well, a regular 3.5 knots SOG. 

What was also gratifying was that the experiment with the genoa sheets seems to be a qualified success..  tacks were definitely smoother with the sheets feeding far more easily, what I want to now is get some guards for the chain plates to stop the sheets catching, I have an idea what I can use and how to do it (seen on one of the other boats in the yard) so I'll fabricate those this week...  "Qualified"? Well they are a little hard on the hands, as I suspected, but not unduly so, and they are manageable

Hurtled past Marker, carried on another couple of tacks and then turned and goose wing ran for the top of the harbour (picture top of post) - I was getting cold and besides I had a fish and chips vision praying on my mind..  gybed just off Emsworth Beacon, rolled the genoa away (as the main was blanking it), started the engine off Sweare Deep, and then sailed down the ditch past Northney (very unusual to be able to do that as the wind down there is very very squirrelly and comes from all directions) before dropping the main just shy of the bridge and then picking up the mooring..

Packed and tidied away and then spent 10 minutes tightening up the stays (nothing like a good tacking session to show which one's are loose 😏) before heading home (via the fish and chip shop 'natch)..  excellent sail!!

Stay tuned for possible updates on the engine front..  changes may be about to happen...


Distance: 7.56 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): F3 gusting F4; S going SE
Sail Plan: Full main and genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots): 4.9 / 3.1

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Quick shakedown...

A lazy afternoon doing some further tinkering with the engine before deciding enough was enough and it was time to find the proof of the pudding..

An hour past high so it was only going to be a quick jaunt, but the engine worked well, the sails came out for a downwind drift, and then back on to the mooring..

Beer was splashed on boat and to Neptune..  fair winds..  the season starts here.. πŸ‘


Distance: 2.38 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction):  F2 ; SE
Sail Plan: Genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots):  4.5 / 1.0

Sunday 21 May 2023


We may have needed that...
We may have needed that (left)...   πŸ˜‹

Just back from a hugely enjoyable (and very lucky) trip with the Jolly Boys..  Rodders came up with the idea of doing these fortnightly as it coincides with optimal tides on his pontoon mooring, and I think this season we'll continue this for as long as we can (holiday and family commitments notwithstanding)..

We're also very boring, as all of us love Cowes, so yet again this was our target for the day, for no other reason than the sailing is the point of the day rather than the destination, but a plate of fish and chips in the Island Sailing Club is also a huge draw! πŸ˜€

So, conjoined at Rod's crib at half 9, on the boat by 10, and a mere half an hour later dropped the mooring lines (we're a well oiled machine these days) and I was reversing AmiLy out of the berth. 

Glorious morning with wall to wall sunshine and a vaguely SE'ly breeze, which gave us optimal time for a gentle tide assisted westerly run, drinking tea, eating triple chocolate biscuits, and on this occasion being HUGELY cheered by the sighting of a dolphin passing west to east, just off our port side..  fantastic! 😊

Just off  Gilkicker and we decided to hoist the "big blue meany" as the winds were light and although progress was being made it was too good an opportunity not to use it..

Cowes ahead and the meany flying..  what a lovely day...

Called ahead for a lunch time mooring and the only option was on the outside pontoon as they were expecting a rally - bit rolly, but all fenders deployed, we headed off for aforesaid fish and chips - which were as ever bloody delish.. 

Rodders kicking his boat...  yes we wondered why too..  πŸ˜†

Tide wasn't due to turn in our favour until 17:20'ish so having stuffed our faces it was back to the boat for coffee and cake while we waited ..  the timing was yet again optimal, as the Heavens opened and it poured with rain while we sat there, but as the tide was turning the skies cleared, the sun came out and the wind went westerly for another nice reach back to home port..  told you it was a lucky day..

Back on the home mooring by half 7'ish and home for well earned sleep...  brilliant trip.


Distance: 25 miles (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction):  AM: F2/SSE / PM: F3/WNW
Sail Plan: Full main and asymmetric or genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots): 7.8 / 2.2

Friday 19 May 2023

Run baby, run...

Pilot jet
So per my update of the 7th, time for a catch up on the job list I left myself, specifically...
  1. Halyard swaps, then ..
  2. Sails/boom on..
  3. Sort the engine out...
Halyard swaps were all done weekend before last, along with the boom, which only left the genoa and engine to do.. 

I'd had a text message from one of my mooring neighbours, to say that it looked like my engine cover was missing, but as the weather was glorious, and we finally had a workable high tide (neither of which has coincided in the intervening period) it seemed opportune to strike while the iron was hot and go out and check. This would also give me an opportunity to see if the drain plug I'd fitted to the new (to me) tender was not leaking..

Quick launch and row to the boat and I was on board by an hour before HT, pleased to find that the soft engine cover I use was still there, it had just blown off to the side in the recent wind we've had. First order of the day then was to get the genoa on.  

I'd been reading up on rigging tips over the winter, and it would appear that last season, by a process of elimination (sheer luck to be honest.. an infinite number of typewriters in front of an infinite number of monkeys, etcetc 😏) I had managed to twig that the success to easy roller furler adjustment is nothing other than not overtightening the luff once it's in the track... the foil holds the luff, so you really don't need to tighten anything else - the line at the bottom of the luff is used only to hold the foot from sliding up the foil under wind pressure, not to tighten it..  that way the swivels at top and bottom of the foil are not under pressure/stress so rotate more easily. Fed the genoa in to the track, good pull when it gets to the top to get the maximum sideways angle from the halyard diverter at the top of the mast, lashed it off finger tight at the bottom, and it rolled away sweet as a nut. πŸ‘

One other thing I am experimenting with this year is the genoa sheets...  I am always having to manually feed the sheets through the blocks when I tack, and I think that basically that is because the sheets are too "heavy"..  with the replacement of the halyards though, I had one (the old jib halyard) that was the right length so I have swapped over to that...  the halyards were 6mm so is more than strong enough, the only question will be whether they hurt the hands when it's blowing...  time will tell..

That done it was time to move on to the engine which to be honest I really wasn't looking forward to, but if I'm to go sailing then a fix was required..

My angle of attack today was three-fold, and in the first traditions of bodge'ry...  as a reminder though symptom was running at high revs in idle, unable to drop the revs at the throttle...  first then I fired up the engine and confirmed the same issue was still present.

Plenty of people had mentioned that the idle jet might need cleaning - there are two jets in most carburettors, the main jet is within the body of the carburettor itself and only accessible really by removing the whole carb and disassembling, but there is also an idling or pilot jet, which (thanks Mr Google) "controls the fuel level when you're at idle to roughly 20% throttle. The jet [main] needle controls the fuel level when you're between 20% and 80% throttle". I've read various articles and watched various YouTube "how to" video's that indicate my symptom can be attributed to a blocked needle..

More importantly though, the pilot jet is a damn sight easier to get to..  this is it...

..and this is it in my actual engine.. the one circled at bottom in the following... before I touched that though, I first had a play with the throttle cable (ringed at top in the following) as I'd noticed that by manually adjusting it I could get the revs to drop slightly. Undoing the small grub screw allowed me to ease the throttle cable, but no significant difference in the revs, so on to the next step, the pilot jet...

You'll notice it has a simple flathead screwdriver slot, and a hole in the middle....  I unscrewed it, pulled it out, and it looked like that one top left except mine was not as shiny, and on mine, the central pilot hole looked to be blocked. I say "looked" as it's difficult to tell as the hole is very very fine. |Everything I have read/watched indicates it is NOT a good idea to force anything in to clear obstructions as these things are made to fine tolerances, but I have an aerosol carburettor cleaner on board, so gave it a good spray with that. I was missing the fine nozzle I think I need to actually direct the stuff direct into the jet, but, I persevered and then reattached and fired her up and results were very promising - it certainly wasn't idling like that that before the clean.. 

The jury is out, we'll see whether this is a permanent fix, but I am happy with the results at this stage. When I go out next time I'll take the fine nozzle for the aerosol and give it a spray through with that - other people have also suggested soaking in acetone for a few hours first.

The good news then is that I think I may have completed those start of season jobs, but time will tell on #3... and the drain plug?? Not a 100% success but I'm putting it down to not screwing in the plug hard enough.. 😁

Sailing with the Jolly Boys Friday - beer, banter and pork pies will almost certainly feature..

Monday 8 May 2023

Running rigging done..

In a brief respite weather'wise before what seems like the the entire next week of rain, a very enjoyable afternoon of ropework (and chat with fellow mooring holders) saw the running rigging completed..

New and old sewn end to end...  then pulled through smoothly..

Tools of the trade..

Main halyard and topping lift in the bag..  jib halyard on the floor being done..
I'd thought that the old halyards were in "OK" condition apart from dirt, and a coating of green algae but as it turned out they were more damaged than I thought..  this is the old topping lift (following)..  

..the rope has become brittle with UV and has what can only be described as "snapped" in a couple of places...  when I took this one home and gave it a run in the washing machine, the inner core came out entirely..   shame as it was in the middle so I ended up with two much smaller lengths..

...and this following - was the main halyard after I had recovered it..   it had worn at the eye end so I guess this is 10 or so years of wear at the block/sheave at the top of the mast when under sail..  cut it out and re-whipped..

Job done!

...and seeing as I had a topping lift and main halyard now,  it seemed foolish not to reinstall the boom and main sail - all done and dusted, but not quite enough time to do the genoa (and besides a bit of a breeze had kicked in which would have made it awkward).. 

Sunday 7 May 2023

Mast up...

Chuffing freezing today (the day of the Coronation), but happily, in slightly warmer, but no less showery, conditions yesterday - we got the mast up..

Not one of our best efforts if I'm honest, but we managed it, and the mast is now up and ready for my halyard swap (job #14)...  πŸ˜€

So what was different?? Just lack of practice, but mostly the weather was not optimal - not a windy day, but the showers were coming through quick, heavy and sharp which kind of made the whole event a bit rushed and lead to some minor errors.... nothing major but some things to add to the checklist for next time..

  • Stays - I leave the lowers (2 per side) off until the mast is up, just relying on the uppers (1 per side) to provide lateral support - I use the forward lower chain plates as the attachment points for the A frame so that kind of drives the decision. On the day we attached the port upper to the port aft lower chain plate in error - which causes the mast to stop as it reaches tension on the stay - no major issue - we laughed (😊), dropped the mast a foot, detached and re-attached it to the right one..  found and accused a scapegoat, job done..
  • Backstay - is complicated when the mast is down and sat in the crutch, as I have a Y back stay with short arms from either quarter to a triangular plate which attaches the long one to the to of the mast. Its a lot of wire, and the key is to lead those two short arms under the back board (which we did), but outside of the legs of the crutch (which we didn't)..  so as the mast went up, at some point it started to try and lift the (lashed down) crutch..  no problem - t'other Dave unscrewed the upper part of the back stay from the plate, slipped it over, and reattached ... found and accused a scapegoat, job done..

Everything else was found sorted and fixed before the lift which after the two minor niggles above went smoothly.. 

Two things worked very well and we will repeat next time if we can..

  • Commute - I had the use of the club workboat for this mast raise, and although it was required back a little earlier than was optimal it made getting everything (four of us, plus boom, sails, and A frame) out to Sparrow SO much easier.. If I hadn't had it I would have left the boom and sails at home and bought them another day, and even with my new tender, it would have taken two boats to back and forth..
  • Loosening off the back stay to the maximum made attaching the forestay a joy.. normally we're fighting to get the clevis pin and washers in, but this time it went straight on..
Had to return the club prior to beers and pork pies as the boat was required, but no worries, we were all a little damp so a picnic in the clubhouse sorted us all out..

* I went back out after the chaps had left and tidied up, sorted out all the stay tensions, checked mast straightness, and generally marvelled at what four old men can still do..  she looks better with the mast up, but she also feels better (less roll).. 

Next job(s)
  1. Halyard swaps, then ..
  2. Sails/boom on..
  3. Sort the engine out...